For something so sweet, sugar really can be quite awful. That’s because if you’re consuming more than 21 percent of your daily calories from added sugars, you double your risk of death from heart disease compared to people who consume just 10 percent of their calories from added sugars.
That’s according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine. The researchers also found that if you consume slightly less added sugar, you’re still at a higher risk of death. Those who consumed 17 to 21 percent of their daily calories from added sugars increased their risk of death from heart disease by 38 percent.
But the key word there is “added.” Sugars that are considered “added” aren’t just a sprinkle of granulated sweetness in your morning coffee, but high-fructose corn syrup, sugars in cakes, cookies and sodas, and other processed foods. This added sugar can cause blood sugar spikes, weight gain and can leave you feeling hungry. Natural sugar—the kind found in whole fruits and milk—is different.
Courtney McCormick, Corporate Dietitian at Nutrisystem, answers your most pressing questions about added and natural sugars below and gives some advice on how to avoid added sugars and incorporate natural sugars into your diet.
If something has stayed the same for 20 years, it’s usually either a sign of a tradition holding fast, or an indication that it’s time for a change. Change is in the air at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which has plans to overhaul its 20-year-old design of food labels.
According to the FDA, the new design is headed down the path of final approval. “The agency is working toward publishing proposed rules to update the nutrition facts label and serving size information to improve consumer understanding and use of nutrition information on food labels,” Juli Putnam, a media spokesperson for the FDA, told TIME magazine.
Many consumers and nutrition experts are saying it’s about time the labels are updated. Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods told ABC News that, 20 years ago, “there was a big focus on fat, and fat undifferentiated. The food environment has changed and our dietary guidance has changed. It’s important to keep this updated so what is iconic doesn’t become a relic.”
The last notable change to food labels was the separation of trans fats from all fats in 2006, due to consumer demand.
Soda gets most the blame for all the added sugar pumping through our children’s veins, but new data shows the blame should lie elsewhere.
Children consume an average of 322 calories a day from added sugars. That’s a mind blowing 16% of their daily calories from extra sugars lurking in their diets, but according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 59% of that added sugar comes from food, not soda. But don’t keep you eye off the bubbly stuff just yet; soft drinks are still the largest single source of added sugars in our kid’s diets.
Added sugars come in the form of table sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, molasses and other caloric sweeteners in prepared and processed foods like cakes, candy, cookies, muffins, sodas, jams, jellys and ice cream. This study did not include natural sugars like those in fruit and 100% fruit juice.
A diet high in added sugars has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association advises that most females consume no more than 100 calories, or about 6 teaspoons, a day from added sugars, and for males, no more than 150 calories, or about 9 teaspoons, per day.
The newest yearly score for the nutrition of United States citizens confirms what we’ve all known but most of us love to ignore – the American way of eating leaves much to be desired in terms of nutrition. According the the CDC, we are not eating enough green vegetables or whole grains, but going overboard on the sweets. This validates what we’ve all suspected, especially with the proliferation of fast food restaurants and super size combos available with nary a spinach salad in sight. Maybe calling attention to this will help us brush up on our nutrition needs for 2012.
Our scores over the past several years have remained dismally low and this year was no exception. The average American overall diet score did not top 60 points out of 100 on the Healthy Eating Index. This index, created in 2005 to determine how nutritiously America ate and to look for ways to improve diets. The Index rates us on our ingestion of specific food groups, including whole fruits, dark green and orange vegetables, whole grains, milk, meat and beans, oils, fats, sodium, alcohol, and added sugar. In the most recent reporting, women tended to score significantly higher than their male counterparts, particularly in the areas of fruits and vegetables. Older people, as well as those who completed higher education levels, also had better scores.
Bethene Ervin, PhD, RD, reported these facts in a National Health Statistics Report and says that the scores indicate that most Americans’ diets need improvement. At the conclusion of her report, Ervin said that most Americans need to add whole grains, leafy dark greens and fruits to their diet and reduce the intake of sugars and alcohol.
By Melissa Breyer for Care2.com
The federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest an upper limit of 25 percent of daily calories come from added sugar. Doesn’t that seem really high? If you have an extra 500 calories to spare, wouldn’t it be wise to spend it on something with some nutritive value? Aside from a waste of calories, a new study shows that adults who consume high levels of sugar have significantly elevated levels of several risk factors for heart disease.
The study, conducted by a group of researchers at the University of California, Davis, and in Japan suggests that the generally-accepted guidelines for sugar may be too lenient and should be reconsidered. The results of their study were reported online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, and will appear in the journal’s October print edition.